When you are ready to buy your first home you have a few critical decisions to make. First you need to decide how much you are willing to spend. You should get a pre-approval from a mortgage broker, and from there decide if you want to max that out or spend a bit less so that your budget can remain more manageable.
You will need to decide next what is most important in terms of the home you are going to buy. In Vancouver price per square foot is a very standard way of valuing a property. If you are buying a condo, most units within the building will sell in and around the same price per square foot, unless they are substantially renovated or the view is drastically different. Of course there are outliers for penthouses or units with large patios, but generally a 2 bedroom condo on the 8th floor will sell for a similar price per square foot as a 2 bedroom condo on the 9th floor.
If you are like most buyers and you don't have an unlimited budget, there are usually some things that you need to give up. The newer, the bigger and the more central buildings usually sell for more.
So do you want an older wood frame building that has larger square footage but it's a block from the beach? Or would you rather something a bit smaller, maybe concrete and newer, but it's maybe not as central as you had hoped?
Well we can't tell you exactly what is important for you, but if you are looking at it in terms of a long term investment there are a few KEY factors to think about:
1) What condition is the building in? The last thing you want to do is buy in a problematic building. Read the documents, ask your Realtor, and do some homework on the building. You can fix a leaking dishwasher but dealing with a negligent strata is much more difficult.
2) Location Location Location... You've heard this before, but it still rings true. When markets slow down, the good areas generally hold value better. With that being said if you can look for areas that have reasons to grow (maybe a new hospital or skytrain or new restaurants) then look at what the area is going to be like in 5 years, not right now. This is where you can really make some good decisions!
3) Layout - In a condo you can only do so much. If the living room is an awkward shape it's likely always going to be an awkward shape. You may be able to open up the kitchen or take down a wall or two but if you buy a pie shaped condo, it will always be a pie shaped condo.
4) PRICE - Last but not least. When buying you want to make sure you get in at a number that will make sense not only today, but down the road. Get your Realtor to do a market analysis to give you a good understanding of what the place is worth and what you can likely buy it for.
At the end of the day deciding where to buy will really depend on what is important to you. I look for areas that have new transit opportunities, expected growth and areas close to parks and commerce.
I always advise my clients to first get into a good building, then look at what you are willing to give up in terms of size or location. If you are willing to live in a smaller space in a better area go for it, but if you need more space then we may need to get creative by looking into some areas that have room for long term growth.
If you would like help with your home search don't hesitate to give us a call!